Brussels, 5 May 2020 (MIA) – Ahead of the EU-Western Balkan summit, the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament have adopted a declaration, urging European leaders to acknowledge that enlargement is one of the Union’s most successful policies, and sooner implementation of the decision to start accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania, MIA reports from Brussels.
The Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament will host tomorrow, together with the Party of European Socialists, a high-level online meeting with sister parties from the Western Balkans, including SDSM leader Zoran Zaev, European Parliament President David Sassoli and EU High Representative Josep Borrell.
The declaration says enlargement has made the Union more influential, strengthening its capacity to promote positive change in the candidate countries, adding “EU has to say clearly that we are the key partner to the region when it comes to building democracy and social justice.”
“While welcoming the decision of the Council of 26 March to open accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, we are looking forward to the implementation of its conclusions,” reads the declaration.
It also emphasises the political and financial conditionality, with a clear link to progress in implementing the measures assumed in the negotiations on the rule of law, fight against corruption and organised crime as well as the respect of human rights and media freedom.
“For the S&D Group, the principle of political engagement and gradual access to the EU policies/instruments, including through increased access to financial support, should become a key aspect in the enlargement process,” notes the declaration.
A particular aspect of interest for the Socialists & Democrats is linked to encouraging a strong social dimension in the reforms related to the accession process. By promoting growth and the EU social acquis in the candidate countries, better conditions are created for decent work, equal treatment and general well-being at home. Social tensions are mitigated, opportunities for young people are offered, brain drain is reduced and conditions for the elimination of unfair competition are created.
“Opening the negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia was the right decision, and we were pushing for it for two reasons. The first one, because the European family is not complete without the Western Balkans. Secondly, because the EU institutions demanded a lot from both countries over the past years, and they delivered. Now, an intense process of social, political and economic reforms starts until we reach the final goal of integration. I hope that this process will also encourage Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina to continue the path of reforms, until the European family is complete,” said S&D leader Iratxe García Pérez.